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Top MLB Prospects Hot Sheet (8/12/19)

Joe_Ryan_TomDiPace.jpg
Joe Ryan (Photo by Tom DiPace)

Welcome back to the Hot Sheet, which ranks the 20 hottest prospects from the previous week. This installment of the Prospect Hot Sheet considers what minor league players did from Aug 6-11. Contributing this week were Josh Norris, J.J. Cooper, Kyle Glaser,  Justin Coleman and Ben Badler.

Remember, this simply recognizes what the hottest prospects in the minors did in the past week—it’s not a re-ranking of the Baseball America Top 100 Prospects.


1. Joe Ryan, RHP, Rays
Team: High Class A Charlotte (Florida State)
Age: 23
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 7 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 13 SO

The Scoop: The man with the unhittable fastball was at it again this week, when he flirted with a no-hitter in the first game of Charlotte’s doubleheader with Bradenton. He settled for a one-hit masterpiece that briefly put him on top of the minor league strikeout leaderboard. His 159 strikeouts are more than any Rays minor leaguer accumulated all of last season. He got 22 swinging strikes in his 93 pitches this week, and he has a swinging-strike rate of 16.7 percent this year. That figure is the third-best in Class A. (JN)


2. Jorge Guzman, RHP, Marlins
Team: Double-A Jacksonville (Southern)
Age: 23
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 6 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 4 BB, 13 SO

The Scoop: Long known for his blazing fastball, Guzman has continued to show the ability to limit hits but needs to further refine his command and control. He’s been masterful in his last two outings, when he’s gone a combined 13 innings and allowed one hit and no earned runs. He’s whiffed 20 against six walks in that time, and he has moved to fifth in the system with 112 strikeouts. (JN)


3. Nick Schnell, OF, Rays
Team: Short-season Hudson Valley (New York-Penn)
Age: 19
Why He’s Here: .500/.593/1.182 (11-for-22) 9 R, 2 2B, 2 3B, 3 HR, 6 BB, 5 SO, 2-for-4 SB

The Scoop: So far, Schnell’s pro career has been slowed by a number of somewhat minor injuries, which has helped the Rays decide to take it slow with his development. Schnell is offering solid reminders that slow doesn’t mean stalled. Schnell has four multi-hit games in his past six games. (JJ)


4. Seth Corry, LHP, Giants
Team: Low Class A Augusta (South Atlantic)
Age: 20
Why He’s Here: 0-0, 0.00, 5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 12 SO

The Scoop: Corry dominated in his only start of the week, working around three baserunners while striking out a season-high 12 batters. The Giants’ No. 13 prospect works with a three-pitch arsenal and mixed it well against Rome, getting plenty of swings and misses late in counts. The lefthander needed 87 pitches to navigate his way through five frames, which he bookended with six straight strikeouts. (JC)


5. Bryson Stott, SS, Phillies
Team: Short-season Williamsport (New York-Penn)
Age: 21
Why He’s Here: .458/.536/.917 (11-for-24), 5 R, 2 2B, 0 3B, 3 HR, 6 RBIs, 4 BB, 5 SO

The Scoop: The Phillies’ 2019 first-round pick has shown no trouble adjusting to life as a pro. After swatting four home runs in his junior season with Nevada-Las Vegas, Stott has equaled that total in 29 games as a professional. There are questions about whether he’ll remain at shortstop in the long term, but he’s likely to have a solid offensive profile wherever he plays. (JN)


6. Gilberto Celestino, OF, Twins
Team: Low Class A Cedar Rapids (Midwest)
Age: 20
Why He’s Here: .419/.455/.677 (13-for-31), 5 R, 2 2B, 2 HR, 4 RBIs, 2 BB, 3 SO, 3-for-3 SB

The Scoop: Celestino is thankful that it’s a long season. For the first two months in the Midwest League, he was an easy out who didn’t really do much of anything to make a pitcher sweat. After hitting .218/.293/.313 before the all-star break, Celestino is hitting .351/.417/.530 since the break. Celestino hasn’t completely revamped his setup, but he has improved it. He still uses a timing step, but it’s a smaller one now, and he’s brought his hands higher in his stance. (JJ)


7. Cristian Javier, RHP, Astros
Team: Double-A Corpus Christi (Texas)
Age: 22
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 0.00, 9 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 4 BB, 16 SO

The Scoop: After striking out 146 hitters in 2018, Javier has reached 144 in just less than 100 innings this season. He doesn’t blow anybody away with his fastball, but he uses what he has to its full effectiveness. He’s been particularly effective in the season’s second half, when he’s whiffed 71 in 40.2 innings over 10 appearances (seven starts). He profiles as a starter toward the back of a rotation. (JN)


8. Daulton Varsho, C, D-backs
Team: Double-A Jackson (Southern)
Age: 23
Why He’s Here: .421/.421/.947 (8-for-19), 4 R, 0 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, 5 RBIs, 0 BB, 5 SO, 0-for-1 SB

The Scoop: With two more home runs last week, Varsho is nearing a rare feat—a 20-home run, 20-stolen base season as a catcher. Varsho is at 15 home runs and 17 stolen bases with three weeks remaining in the regular season, giving him a real shot at 20-20. (KG).


9. Austin Hays, 3B, Orioles
Team: Triple-A Norfolk (International)
Age: 24
Why He’s Here: .364/.417/.773 (8-for-22), 8 R, 1 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 2 RBIs, 1 BB, 2 SO, 2-for-2 SB

The Scoop: Little has gone right for Hays since he bounded from high Class A all the way to the majors in his first full season. After being limited to 75 games by injury last year, he’s played just 67 games this year due to injuries. He finally began to find his form this past week, finishing on a five-game hitting streak and homering on back-to-back days. If he can put together a strong final month, Hays has a shot to get back to Baltimore as a September callup. (KG)


10. Kris Bubic, LHP, Royals
Team: High Class A Wilmington (Carolina)
Age: 21
Why He’s Here: 1-0, 1.00, 9.00 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 11 SO

The Scoop: Bubic went the distance against high Class A Fayetteville, allowing just four baserunners across his outing. He threw a season-high 111 pitches, striking out 11 batters. Bubic made the most of his fastball-changeup combo, working to contact early on before racking up the strikeouts in that later innings. (JC)


11. Tristen Lutz, OF, Brewers
Team: High Class A Carolina (Carolina)
Age: 20
Why He's Here: .375/.400/.792 (9-for-24), 5 R, 1 2B, 3 HR, 5 RBIs, 1 BB, 7 SO

The Scoop: Lutz puts a charge into the ball when he connects, showing the combination of strength and bat speed to generate above-average raw power. The 29 percent strikeout rate is still a red flag though, and Lutz will have to cut down on his empty swings as he moves up the ladder. (BB)


12. Zac Lowther, LHP, Orioles
Team: Double-A Bowie (Eastern)
Age: 23
Why He’s Here: 1-1, 3.46, 13 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 5 BB, 18 SO



The Scoop: Lowther had two solid starts back-to-back, going six and seven innings, respectively. In his first outing, Lowther struck out a season-high 10 batters in six frames against Double-A Trenton. The lefty followed that up with a seven-inning, two-run performance against Double-A Richmond. Lowther worked with his four-pitch mix and made sure to pitch to contact when necessary. (JC)


13. Abraham Toro, 3B, Astros
Team: Triple-A Round Rock (Astros)
Age: 22
Why He’s Here: .542/.577/.667 (13-for-25) 5 R, 3 2B, 6 RBIs, 1 BB, 2 SO

The Scoop: Toro understandably is getting noticed for his bat—he’s hitting .318 this year and .469 since his recent promotion to Round Rock. His improved defense is worthy of note as well. Toro still is not and likely will never be an above-average defender, but he has improved to the point of being playable at third base.It wasn’t always a sure bet that he could reach that level. (JJ)


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2019 Minor League Players Of The Year

Baseball America writers, correspondents select MiLB Player of the Year awards for all 30 MLB organizations.

14. Mateo Gil, SS, Cardinals
Team: Rookie-level Johnson City (Appalachian)
Age: 19
Why He’s Here: .391/.481/.913 (9-for-23), 7 R, 1 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 5 RBIs, 4 BB, 7 SO

The Scoop: The son of former big league infielder Benji Gil immediately impressed the Cardinals with his athleticism and instincts after they drafted him in the third round last year. After a slow start at the plate, Gil has turned it on this month by batting .368 with seven extra-base hits in 10 games. With the ability to stay at shortstop and flashes of extra-base pop, Gil has an intriguing foundation to work from in the Cardinals system. (KG)


15. Miguel Hiraldo, SS/2B, Blue Jays
Team: Rookie-level Bluefield (Appalachian)
Age: 18
Why He's Here: .333/.367/.741 (9-for-27), 6 R, 5 2B, 2 HRs, 13 RBIs, 2 BB, 7 SO, 1-for-1 SB

The Scoop: Several international scouts considered Hiraldo to be one of the best hitters available when he signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2017. He has lived up to his reputation in his first two years of professional baseball, with a direct swing and the ability to drive the ball with impact from the right side. He's hitting .302/.350/.500 in 43 games in the Appy League. (BB)


16. Evan White, 1B, Mariners
Team: Double-A Arkansas (Texas)
Age: 23
Why He’s Here: .320/.346/.680 (8-for-25), 4 R, 0 2B, 0 3B, 3 HR, 8 RBIs, 1 BB, 8 SO

The Scoop: The defensive-oriented White underwent a power surge this week. He homered in consecutive games, including a two-homer, five-RBI performance against Double-A Springfield. His hand-eye coordination and knowledge of the strike zone have helped him consistently barrel the ball when he gets pitches to hit. White collected an RBI in three straight games and currently has a four-game hitting streak. (JC)


17. Omar Estevez, 2B, Dodgers
Team: Double-A Tulsa (Texas)
Age: 21
Why He's Here: .471/.571/.765 (8-for-17), 6 R. 2 2B, 1 HR, 3 RBIs, 4 BB, 7 SO

The Scoop: Estevez doesn't run well, throw all that well or hit for much power, but what he has done is put the ball in play. As one of the youngest hitters in the Texas League, he's hitting an impressive .308/.381/.445 on the season. (BB)


18. Noelvi Marte, SS, Mariners
Team: DSL Mariners
Age: 17
Why He's Here: .346/.379/.615 (9-for-26), 1 2B, 2 HR, 5 RBIs, 2 BB, 5 SO, 1-for-2 SB

The Scoop: Marte ranked as the No. 4 international prospect last year when the Mariners signed him for $1.55 million. Already Seattle's No. 8 prospect, Marte made the DSL all-star team with a promising blend of hitting ability, power, speed and athleticism. (BB)


19. Luken Baker, 1B, Cardinals
Team: High Class A Palm Beach (Florida State)
Age: 22
Why He’s Here: .500/.579/.938 (8-for-16), 5 R, 4 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 3 RBIs, 3 BB, 2 SO

The Scoop: It has been a rough first full season for Baker, but at least he’s finishing strong. The hulking first baseman has recorded a hit in 10 of his last 11 games, including a trio of three-hit performances. The surge has raised his season numbers from .214 with a .617 OPS to .235 with a .680 OPS. Baker has to hit as a thick, below-average defensive first baseman, so his late performance has been a welcome development. (KG)


20. Ty France, 3B, Padres
Team: Triple-A El Paso (Pacific Coast)
Age: 25
Why He’s Here: .556/.609/.944 (10-for-18), 7 R, 4 2B, 1 HR, 7 RBIs, 2 BB, 2 HBP

The Scoop: So far, France’s worst month in the minor leagues this year was July, when he hit “only” .366/.449/.613. If France hit that all year, he’d rank in the top 10 in the minors in all three categories. But that is far below his overall performance this season, as he’s just one month away from finishing arguably the best statistical season the minors have seen this century. No player has finished first in the minors in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage this century. France not only has a chance to do that (he currently leads all three categories), but he could do so while posting better numbers in all three categories than any hitter had posted in any of those categories in the 21st century. France is also hitting .403, which means he has a solid shot of becoming the minors’ first .400 hitter of the 21st century as well. France has had four or more hits eight times this year. He’s gone 0-for-4 or worse only seven times this season. (JJ)


HELIUM

Otto Lopez, 2B, Blue Jays

Lopez gets lost in a strong Blue Jays system, but his performance at low Class A Lansing this season has scouts’ attention. The 20-year-old Dominican keeps putting the bat on the ball and hit .343/.395/.400 in his latest strong week, including three consecutive multi-hit games. Overall, Lopez is batting .310, fourth in the Midwest League, and scouts still see room for improvement in the quality of his at-bats. He is an excellent athlete who moves well and has the strength to grow into some power despite his size, making him yet another intriguing low-level prospect in the Blue Jays' system. (KG)

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